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International Startup Competition Sparks Innovation in Language Technology

Online challenge offers platform for innovative startups that seek to revolutionize language learning

 Four first-time entrepreneurs are vying to create the best new product to fill a need in world language education. The competition is hosted by The Language Flagship Technology Innovation Center (Tech Center) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.


The 2022 virtual event on March 5, 3-4:15 p.m. EST, will be emceed by Nicole Naditz, a nationally recognized language educator and language learning technologist.


The four startup companies are based in the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, and the United States. During the competition, the finalists will pitch their innovation. A panel of experienced professionals from a wide variety of fields will provide feedback, and select the winner. Audience members will cast their votes for a People’s Choice award.


All finalists will receive exposure and access to thousands of language educators, successful companies and The Language Flagship international network.


“The upcoming competition reflects a fascinating juxtaposition of diverse approaches from media, language pedagogy, and data-centered viewpoints,” said Richard Medina, project lead and Faculty Specialist at the Tech Center.




Charlala (Illinois)—Charlala has two core tools: a simulated conversation tool and a digital whiteboard tool. Educators use the platform to assess speaking proficiency and practice conversation activities. The platform also converts any device into a digital canvas to engage students in authentic conversations through activities, including card talks, weekend chats, and storytelling.

JinbuPal (South Carolina)—JinbuPal is a web-based mobile app designed to help learners jumpstart their Mandarin skills. JinbuPal’s card-based system features character and word cards, similar to digital flashcards. JinbuPal confronts users with all the characters and words they will need to reach 90% recognition when engaging with real-world content. 

Lirica (United Kingdom)—Lirica is a mobile application that teaches all the building blocks of the language through music. The app intelligently matches up core language components with the lyrics of different pieces of popular music, fitting them to difficulty levels, so that beginners and more experienced learners can succeed. 

Worddio (Bulgaria)—Worddio is a vocabulary and pronunciation app which uses audio flashcards and is targeted primarily at non-native English speakers. With more than 270,000 words in 34 languages, Worddio is the ideal companion for those who wish to grow and enrich their language learning. 

Tech Center Director Julio C. Rodriguez said that the products created by the 2022 LaunchPad finalists are examples of creativity and innovation in the design of technologies that support the learning and teaching of languages. 


“The LaunchPad offers our private sector colleagues a unique opportunity to garner valuable feedback from experts in the field and the Tech Center community at large. We hope that LaunchPad finalists will use this feedback, which is offered at an early stage of their product’s development, to improve the fit between their products and the needs of world language professionals,” Rodriguez said.

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